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Thursday, 26 November 1936

Senator COLLINGS (Queensland) . - I am not by any means satisfied with the explanation given by the Leader of the Government (Senator Pearce) regarding the cost of the GovernorGeneral's establishments. I have tried more than once to secure information by the orderly means of asking questions, but the replies which I have received have been so incomplete as to be entirely unsatisfactory. I would use much stronger language, but I am afraid of falling foul of you, Mr. Chairman. I suggest that the Senate is entitled to the whole story.

Senator Sir George Pearce - The story is that there are two buildings to maintain instead of one.

Senator COLLINGS - Some months ago I asked whether it was intended to provide the Governor-General with establishments in parts of Australia other than the Federal 'Capital Territory. The answer was that there was no intention to do anything of the kind. I have frequently complained of the fact that when we seek information in this chamber by way of questions we cannot get it, and we have to try to piece it together from press reports which more often than not turn out to be substantially correct. In the issue of the Melbourne Herald of the 7th November, I find the following paragraph : -

Since the transfer of the Federal Parliament to Canberra about nine and a half years ago, £47,378 has been spent on the Governor-

General's establishment at Canberra. This information was given by the Minister for the Interior (Mr. Paterson) in the House of Representatives to-day.

I am not objecting to that expenditure; I believe that the Governor-General's residence in Canberra should be commensurate with the high office which he occupies, and that everything possible should be done for his comfort and that of his good lady and his extensive staff; but as Leader of the Opposition and as an Australian citizen I say that that represents absolutely my limit. This establishment was good enough for the finest gentleman who has ever occupied the position of Governor-General in this country, Sir Isaac Isaacs, and his good wife; as it was good enough for them it should be quite good enough for the present occupant of the office. I want to know exactly what it has cost to recondition Admiralty House, but I cannot obtain that information. I know that it cost considerably more than £5,000.

Senator J V MACDONALD (QUEENSLAND) - More like £20,000.

Senator COLLINGS - I have endeavoured to secure the information without avail, and now I have to delay proceedings in an attempt to extract it. It is up to the Minister to let us know what the Governor-General is costing this country. I object to providing a home for him in .'Sydney, or in Melbourne, or, in fact, anywhere else but in this Federal Capital Territory, where his official home ought to be. I know the GovernorGeneral has to travel about the country ; the next thing we shall hear is that the Government is building or acquiring another residence in Queensland.

Senator Hardy - Does not the honorable senator think that that would be a good idea?

Senator COLLINGS - No. "We have first class hotels in Queensland, and the Governor-General should stay at them when he is in that State, just as I have to do when I visit other States. I "enter my protest against my inability to secure information and at the extravagance which is being indulged in in connexion with the provision of residences for the Governor-General.

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